Casey Hayward didn’t mince words.
Following one of the best defensive performances in Chargers history, the Pro Bowl cornerback explained how the Buffalo Bills’ decision to make the switch at quarterback from veteran Tyrod Taylor to rookie Nathan Peterman was a personal affront to the entire team.
“He’s a rookie,” Hayward said. “He’s a rookie guy, so they decided to start him this week against our team. I’m pretty sure we might’ve felt a little disrespected. They started a rookie against a really good defense. We have some good edge rushers, and we have some good guys in the secondary. So, we had to take advantage of that.”
The Bolts entered the game with a specific purpose in mind.
“He’s a rookie, (so) obviously coming in there he’s going to be a little shaken up,” said Joey Bosa. “Getting some pressure in there, and once we got the first one or two, then it kind of shook him a little…. (Melvin Ingram) and I both knew that if we were able to build pressure and get in his face that he would make some bad decisions with the football. I mean, we didn’t expect five (interceptions), but (we’re not going to) cut him a break. He’s a rookie, he got thrown in there out of the blue, and it’s not like we were taking it easy on him.”
“Get them early,” added Hayward. “We wanted to get our hands on the ball early and take advantage of the opportunities. (Peterman) is a rookie, and he is going to make some mistakes. We just took advantage of it.”
Did they ever.
After Buffalo opted to receive to start the game, Korey Toomer intercepted Peterman and took it 59 yards to the house. On the ensuing possession, Hayward picked off Peterman three plays later for the team’s second INT of the quarter. They weren’t done quiet yet as Tre Boston intercepted Peterman’s third down pass late in the opening frame, returning it to midfield.
The three interceptions tied for the most in Chargers history in one quarter.
But it didn’t stop there.
Hayward had yet another INT just over two minutes into the second quarter while Trevor Williams made it a quintet of picks with 41 seconds remaining in the half. The five interceptions set a new team record for interceptions in a single half, and are the most in the NFL this season.
“I can’t remember the last time (my team) had five picks,” said Bosa. “Never, really. Maybe in college.”
Add in Melvin Ingram’s 39-yard scoop-and-score in the third quarter off Bosa’s strip-sack, and the Chargers’ six takeaways were their most since 1990 when they had seven against Tampa Bay.
“I didn’t realize we had six turnovers to be honest with you,” Head Coach Anthony Lynn admitted after the game. “Like I said, when they get them, they come in bunches. Those guys are playing at a high level right now. Real confident. That’s great.”
It helped that the Bolts had Peterman under siege the entire first half.
“We know our pass rush would get to him if we put some pressure on him,” Lynn added. “We studied all the preseason film, and every time he was under pressure, his completion percentage was a lot lower. We didn’t have to manufacture the pressure. We have guys (who) can apply it. They did a good job of that.”
Now, Ingram wants every team in the NFL to know the havoc they can wreak on opposing offenses.
“That’s what we aim to do every week. We want you to feel us there, and we want you to think about us.”
The Chargers take on the Buffalo Bills for the annual Salute to Service game.